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Work Christmas Party: Planning the Office Function

Updated on October 15, 2012

Work Christmas Party

Work Christmas Party: Planning the Office Function
Work Christmas Party: Planning the Office Function

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Five tips to help plan the office Christmas party

Unless you are a wild Christmas enthusiast or have a magic budget to play with, planning the work Christmas party is like drawing the short straw. In the hangover-soaked post-party wash up, most people may have had a good time, but the lead up to and the planning of a work function can be a lonely and stressful experience that you are sure will culminate into a party no one enjoys. For most staff party planners it is a thankless task, particularly during the planning stage when everyone seems to have better ideas. A lot of the reception for the party depends on the culture of your work place, which you may only have limited control over. Once you make your peace with the fact you can't please everyone you will have a lot more fun and can start looking forward to the party itself!

In this hub I have selected five tips to not only help plan the party, but also to survive the planning process itself.

What you actually do for your staff Christmas party will depend on a wide variety of elements, such as your location, budget and culture just to name a few. However, there are a few aspects of work party planning that are probably fairly universal. These universal tips are what I have included here.

Christmas is fast approaching, and places will start to get booked out. Start planning now to ensure you get your venue of choice.

The Office Christmas Party

1. Make a decision and stick to it

Be brutal. People may not like your decisions of where, when and what a work party is, but they are more likely to respect your decisions if you stick to them. I once organised a work party and sent out an email with the details. The next day I had people in my office asking why we were doing certain things and asking if we could do things a little differently. Eventually I gave in and change some of the details and sent out another work email. Once again, the very next day I had people in my office asking why things had been changed and saying we should do it the other way. Sure enough at the office party it was agreed that the original decision was the best one and I shouldn’t have changed it. The issue with making changes may not actually be that things are made better or worse, the problem is that it opens your decisions up to even more scrutiny. Making a decisions and sticking to them shows you to be decisive and your decisions are more likely to be respected accordingly.

Banquet Meals at Work Parties

Banquet Menu
Banquet Menu

2. Where possible, go for the banquet or buffet options at your office party

This is just a practical tip that may make the office party run more smoothly. Unless people can give you their menu choices before the event, then a dinner with a banquet or buffet will run more smoothly than one where people order off a menu.

Naturally, it can take a kitchen longer to prepare a large amount of individual dishes than preparing larger quantities of just a few types of dinners. However, the bigger issue is the amount of time it takes for the restaurant staff to take your orders. If you have a large party, unless the waiting staff run a smooth operation, then going around taking everyone’s orders can take longer than you think.

Having a banquet or buffet menu also allows you to plan out the event better. If the evening hinges on when the staff decide to take orders, then you are at mercy of their scheduling. Having a set menu means you can tell them when you want the different courses and make plans accordingly.

Staff Party Preferences

What sort of dinner do you prefer at an office party?

See results

Work Party Seat Numbers

Seat numbers at the Office Party
Seat numbers at the Office Party

3. Have some flexibility in office party seat numbers

Here’s another practical tip to avoid having issues at your work party – have a buffer for last minute additions and withdrawals. If you only just make up the minimum numbers for an event centre or dining hall, then perhaps that is not the right venue for you. Firstly, even if everyone shows up the place will look a bit empty. Secondly, if there are late withdrawals then best case it will look even more vacant and worse case you will pay penalties or at least food or drink minimums.

On the other hand, be careful not to allow room for late additions. If you’ve booked for the exact amount of people coming then you may be allocated to a table or section that is a bit small. Allowing for a couple extra will give your guests a bit more elbow room. Importantly, if you have a late addition to your party then you risk alienating them if you have to drastically reshuffle arrangements to accommodate them. Having a spare couple of seats, providing you want the new addition there, allows them to feel welcome and integrate seamlessly.

Work Christmas Party

Work Christmas Party
Work Christmas Party | Source

4. You can’t please all your co-workers at the party, so don’t try

When I booked a Thai restaurant for a staff function I found out later that some people did not come simply because they did not like Thai food. Had I known this should I have changed the venue? The answer to this is no. Unless your selected venue is actually offensive or could be seen as insensitive to certain people then you shouldn’t feel too guilty if a few people don’t like it. Most restaurants can cater or make exceptions for all manner of dietary requirements, so not coming to an event over the culinary choices says more about the non-attendee than the venue itself.

It is virtually impossible to please everyone, so it is a waste to lose any sleep trying to.

Staff Party Theme

Staff Party Themes
Staff Party Themes | Source

5. When you try and please everyone at the staff party, you end up pleasing no one

This is closely linked to the earlier tip that you can’t please everyone at the Christmas party, so don’t try. However, while that tip was about your inability to please everyone, this tip is actually about the damage you can do by trying to.

A staff event that features a local sports legend (for the sports fans), wearing a Rambo outfit (for the movie enthusiasts), handing out caviar (for the cultured) and balloons (for the young at heart), won’t actually end up pleasing the sports fans, the film enthusiasts, or the cultured or the young at heart. They won’t enjoy it, and some may even be offended. Alternatively, you may try and make staff Christmas party so bland and inoffensive that no one has any fun.

Sure, have a few conversations to try and garner a broad overview about what staff like and dislike, but don’t go to the ends of the earth to try and cater for all of those opinions.

Your 5 Office Christmas Party Tips:

  • 1. Make a decision and stick to it
  • 2. Where possible, go for the banquet or buffet options
  • 3. Have some flexibility in seat numbers
  • 4. You can’t please everyone, so don’t try
  • 5. When you try and please everyone, you end up pleasing no one

Office Function Drinking Poll

Do you drink at staff parties?

See results

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